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‘Justice League #39’ (review)

Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Jorge Jimenez
and Daniel Sampere
Published by DC Comics 


“I just… I thought perhaps it was a trick. Something we could debunk or change or… stop. But I should have known. I should have said. I saw it. I saw it all.”

“As did we Manhunter…”

[note: this review contains spoilers..]


This month’s issue of Justice League, billed as the much-anticipated final chapter of Scott Snyder’s Justice/Doom War, begins with the triumphant return of J’onn J’onzz, Martian Manhunter.

It’s a suitably positive up-note, on the heels of the beating the League took from Apex Luthor last issue, and their own last hopeful rally to turn the tide.

(Well, postive that is, other than the sacrifice of J’onn and Kendra’s as-yet unborn child Shayne. But hey, that’s how it was always going to be, apparently.)

Martian Manhunter’s return marks a new return of hope.

For J’onn holds the key to one last mighty effort to reach out and connect with all the minds of Earth, calling upon them to join the side of Justice, rejecting once and for all the dark design that Perpetua would re-visit upon the Multiverse and all her children.

It’s an impassioned plea, one that builds and grows in high Shakespearean fashion, until (somehow) it extends beyond the mere confines of Earth to connect with every soul in the Multiverse… and then reaching, even further, out beyond the 4th wall itself, to make its appeal to each and every one of us.

Reject the cages of callous selfishness, J’onn tells us. Turn away from our base nature and reach instead for our highest. Embrace the nobility of connection and compassion and truth. Embrace the We, that all of us are together.

And suddenly, it seems, Perpetua is on the ropes. Surprisingly, even Luthor falters in his conviction.

But wait, you say, hold on. You’ve been reading this book from the very beginning.

From the very first issue of Scott Snyder’s run, it’s been made very plain – to J’onn, to us, to anyone who’s been listening – that none of this was ever going to end in victory. Indeed, the vision J’onn had at the very outset of the Totality’s appearance in our reality very clearly shows the League in defeat, as Perpetua, enthroned once again in her full power, reclaims her Creation in the name of Doom. Right there, at the very start.

And again and again, no matter how hard the League has fought to stem the tide and shine the light of hope on a world and Multiverse that seem to be slipping through their hands, the one recurring message that’s come through, has always been that they were always in way over their heads. That all their valor and all their ideals would, in the end, come to naught.

After all Perpetua is the Mother of the Multiverse. What chance do mere mortals hold against such overwhelming power? Against this all-consuming Fate? Kind of a set up really.

That’s what the Totality showed J’onn, and all the great powers of the Multiverse. The League was never going to win this war.

So, it shouldn’t come as a shock when this is exactly what happens. In the end, the Shadowed Hand of Self-Interest wins – the people side with Doom.

And in one final stroke, Perpetua wipes away our greatest heroes, as if they had never been.

That’s it.

That’s the end of Snyder’s long-running, grand saga of the Justice League. Because that’s the story he set out to tell. This is what was always going to happen.

Or, this part of the story anyway.

Clearly, Snyder and his collaborators had other Justice League stories to tell to follow this one.

After all, now that Perpetua has laid claim to the Multiverse, presumably she will continue to transform it to suit her purposes, as it wings its way to the farthest edges of the known Cosmos and the great Source beyond. And whatever course that story was set to take over the year ahead it most certainly would have dove-tailed with all the machinations that the Batman Who Laughs is currently enjoying over in Hell Arisen – along with whatever other incursions of the Dark Multiverse the DC bullpen had in store for us.

But now, fair or not, complete or not, Snyder’s run of the Justice League has ended. The unpredictable forces of popularity, sales, new creative directions, and new editorial decisions, have brought this arc of the Justice League’s story to an abrupt, and pretty depressing, end.

It’s fair to have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, at least we’re not going to see the League of Apex Predators. Unfortunately, the segue we are left with instead is clunky and incomplete, and, despite Snyder’s best efforts, one that falls a little flat.

The final result is an ending that has characterized too much of Snyder’s writing on this run over the last year and a half – one that is grim, over-complicated, and confusing. And that’s a shame. Because there have been some fine and marvelous moments as well.

You can’t fault Snyder for his imagination, and you can’t fault him for his ambition either.

But again, this was always (almost) how it was going to be.

And now, while much of what Snyder and all his talented collaborators have set in motion will still presumably be in play, other storylines and considerations will try to fit themselves together as we push through 2020 toward the inevitable Crisis ahead, and whatever lies beyond.

How the folks at DC pull that off, is anyone’s guess at this point. Honestly, it’s hard to reconcile a brand new, fresh run on the Justice League next month, with a spate of stories by Robert Venditti that seemingly pick up as if nothing at all has happened.

But I’m sure there’s an explanation. One that, eventually, will tie everything together. One that will thread all of the competing storylines and tie up all the lose threads still left dangling, over the year ahead.

We can only hope so, anyway.

For now, it’s well worth giving a shout out to all the fine people who have taken our ideas of the Justice League and the DCU and stretched them to the limit over this run. In an ever-expanding universe, it’s good to have creators with the vision and the daring ready to show us new and exciting possibilities.

Even if we still have to reclaim ourselves from the darkness, to fulfill them.

Impossible you say? But this is the Justice League. And when all is said and done, we are all the Justice League.

Nothing is impossible.

Next Issue: Something completely different.



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